PHOTOGRAPHY BY ANDREA WILSON
MONTEREY, CA, JULY 18 - Summer mornings on the Monterey Peninsula usually mean one thing: Fog. So with tomorrow’s second qualifying session for the Daytona SportBike class scheduled for 9:05 a.m., it’s highly probably that this afternoon’s first qualifying session produces the fast times. If that’s the case, then Y.E.S. Graves Yamaha’s Cameron Beaubier likely just earned himself pole position for Sunday’s race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
Beaubier, the winner of the six of the first seven AMA Daytona SportBike races, threw down his best lap with less than five minutes to go to knock Red Bull Roadrace Factory’s Jake Gagne from the top spot by .874 of a second with Beaubier the only rider to crack the 1:27 barrier with his 1:26.902 lap – a new lap record for the class.
Prior to Beaubier’s best, Gagne had led the session with his 1:27.776, but everyone knew that Beaubier probably had more in the tank. And he did.
Third fastest this afternoon was Jason DiSalvo on the Latus Motors Triumph, the New Yorker 1.4 seconds behind Beaubier but just .388 off Gagne.
Then came Beaubier’s Yamaha teammate Garrett Gerloff and Gagne’s teammate JD Beach. Dane Westby put the GEICO Honda in the sixth slot, followed by Meen Motorsports’ Jake Lewis. James Rispoli, who is celebrating his 22nd birthday today, got off to a rough start when he crashed the National Guard Suzuki on his outlap. He recovered to put the GSX-R600 in the eight slot.
Joey Pascarella and Bobby Fong rounded out the top 10.
“This morning in first practice I struggled a little bit getting up to speed,” Beaubier said. “I struggled a little bit getting heat in the right-hand side of the tire. We made some changes and got me a little more comfortable with the front end for qualifying and I put a soft on right at the end. Jake [Gagne] was going really fast and got into the 27s and I put in some really solid laps at the end. We’ll see how the weather is tomorrow morning and I think I’m good for the race.”
Beaubier said he expected the morning to be foggy and damp, so going fast in this session was imperative.
“That’s been typical here the last few years and it’s really foggy in the morning and we can’t get too much track time. We can’t really push the session back just because MotoGP is here and everything. No matter what we’ll probably go make a couple more changes to get a little more more feel with the front tire on the right-handers. Other than that we’re sitting pretty good for the race.”
Daytona SportBike Qualifying 1
1. Cameron Beaubier (Yamaha) 1:26.698
2. Jake Gagne (Yamaha) 1:27.769
3. Jason DiSalvo (Triumph) 1:28.157
4. Garrett Gerloff (Yamaha) 1:28.496
5. JD Beach (Yamaha) 1:28.650
6. Dane Westby (Honda) 1:28.681
7. Jake Lewis (Yamaha) 1:28.714
8. James Rispoli (Suzuki) 1:28.773
9. Joey Pascarella (Triumph) 1:29.205
10. Bobby Fong (Yamaha) 1:29.487